Columnists Mark my words

Getting the vaccine was a shot in the arm

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

I’m gonna be here forever.

That was my first thought on Feb. 10 as I opened the door to the Riverfront Community Center in Leavenworth. To my right was a sea of folding chairs with about 40 people sitting in them. Since I was so excited to get the first of two Moderna shots, however, I was prepared to wait. After all, I’d brought plenty of reading material.

It didn’t take long for me to realize how wrong I was. I’d filled out the necessary forms at home and soon was being whisked from station to station where my name was checked off a list and I was given a small vaccination card and asked which was my dominant arm. I was then directed to one of about a dozen people giving the shots.

I sat down and removed my coat and one arm from my long sleeve shirt. When I asked why the shot was going into my dominant arm, the nurse said she wanted me to use that arm as much as possible afterwards to reduce soreness. She had no more answered my question than she said, “You’re done!” I didn’t feel a thing.

That’s when things spiraled out of control. I stood up but couldn’t find the sleeve to put my arm back into my shirt. A helpful nurse from another station guided my arm in. Then, my own nurse started laughing as I proceeded to put the buttons into the wrong buttonholes. She helped me with that, hoping no doubt that this “poor soul” (me) hadn’t driven myself that day!

And what about that sea of people I’d seen upon entering the center? They’d all received their shots already and were simply waiting the required 15 minutes before leaving. The whole vaccine experience was impressively slick.

March 10 found me back in Leavenworth for the second shot. Since the weather was warm, I was able to wear a light jacket and a T-shirt. Like before, I was whisked through the various stations and soon found myself seated before a nurse. She looked at me and said, “Father Mark? I took care of your mom when she was at Vintage Park (the assisted living residence in Tonganoxie)!”

She went on to say that Mom was always so nice and never looked her age. (She didn’t say the same about me.) The T-shirt eliminated any unfortunate “long sleeve shirt issues” from the first shot and soon I was waiting the required 15 minutes. (Incidentally, the only side effects I’d experience would be a very slight fever and a lot of fatigue, both which passed by the evening of the next day.)

While I sat there, this little story popped into my head:

A couple strolled about in New York City one warm evening and came upon a ConEd electric generating station, quietly humming about its business. The wife mused, “Though we live nearby, we’ve never known it was here.”

“That’s just like people who quietly do their jobs,” replied the husband. “Just as ConEd keeps the city and its suburbs running, inconspicuous people keep the world running.” (Adapted from “Sower’s Seeds Aplenty: Fourth Planting,” by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR.)

I was amazed at how many “inconspicuous people” made my vaccination possible:  the people who organized the event, those managing all the paperwork, the folks giving the shots, the people directing traffic inside the center, the workers who set up all of the chairs and pathways and the janitorial staff who took care of the place. I then reflected on the professors who trained the medical personnel, the researchers who discovered the vaccine, the manufacturers of the syringes, the drivers who delivered the vaccines . . . and the list could go on and on.

I left the community center with a humbled and grateful heart, knowing that all these inconspicuous people and their service were the real shot in the arm.

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Fr. Mark Goldasich

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